Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mary Greer's Who are you in the Tarot?

Archpriestess Mary Greer has just published a new book on using the Tarot, called Who are You in the Tarot? She has an ongoing discussion of the principles of the book at her Facebook page, I've been using her system for selecting cards for meditation and information for years, ever since I got copies of her books, Tarot for Your Self and Tarot Constellations. The new book updates the system and contains additions that make it well worth the purchase.

Personality, Soul, and Year Cards

My Strength Card
The first set of cards in Mary's system are computed numerologically from the month, day, and year of your birthdate. You add up the numbers, e.g., 10 + 31 + 1956 = 1997, the sum the digits down until you get a number between 1 and 21: 1 + 9 + 9 + 7 = 26 = 2 + 6 = 8. This card represents your Major Arcana Personality card for this incarnation. Then you sum the card's digits down to a single number between 1 and 9, which is your Soul number, the purpose for which your Soul incarnates to learn additional lessons. In my case, my Personality and Soul cards are the same, indicating that I'm doing intensive learning this lifetime. Whew!

I've been doing artwork meditating on the cards for years. The card on the left, which I've named "Parthenos," represents the Greek Goddess Artemis. The term means "one who is complete in herself," in other words, who stands in his or her own strength. To me, this represents the power of integrating the parts of oneself, and standing on one's own two feet. (I've subtitled the card, "The Last Sight Actaeon Saw as a Man," for those of you who are mythology buffs.)

Year cards are based on the month and day of your birth plus the current year, and run from birthday to birthday. For example, my current year card is 10 + 31 + 2010 = 2051 = 8. Oh, joy, I'm living another Strength year. Holy foreclosure, Batman! <grin> The card sequence steps forward by one card each year in a 10-year cycle, then the cycle restarts one card forward of where the last cycle started. This way, you get another chance to learn the Card's lesson, if you missed it the previous time around, or to go on and learn a Card's lesson at a higher spiritual level.

My current cycle continues to 2018 (2 + 0 + 6 + 9 = 16), which is the first time I get to encounter The Tower, a card I'm not particularly looking forward to playing with. Then my cycle resets in 2019 (2 + 0 + 6 + 0 = 8) to another Strength year. Gee! I think I'd like to pass on the whole 2017-2019 sequence, and just stay in my Temperance year, 2016. But it doesn't work that way, darn it! <grin>

Name Cards and Gifts from Parents

My Star Card
When you were born, your parents gave you a name—their gifted lesson to you for this lifetime. As you grow and change, you may choose to take on new names of various sorts, which shift and moderate your parents' gift, and lets you focus more pointedly on things you want to learn. In 2008, I legally changed my name to Michael Artonn Starsheen, which works out to 17, or The Star, which is a higher octave of Strength (1 + 7 = 8), focusing me more nearly on my Soul lesson this time around.

Death as Transformation
My birth name worked out to 13, Death, which involved an intense struggle for identity and transformation in my case. Other names I've used bring different gifts for me to learn, but the transformation I've achieved from Death to The Star has been profoundly satisfying.

To calculate your name card, you assign a digit from 1-9 to each letter in your name:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
S T U V W X Y Z '

Michael adds up to 33 (4 + 9 + 3 + 8 + 1 + 4 + 3), Artonn to 28 (1 + 9 + 2 + 6 + 5 + 5), and Starsheen to 37 (1 + 2 + 1 + 9 + 1 + 8 + 5 + 5 + 5), then the whole name adds up to 98 (33 + 28 + 37) and 17, The Star.

Court Cards and Lesser Lessons
Mary's system continues using numerology and astrology to find significant life lessons. The Court Cards in the Tarot represent aspects of personality, as well as persons you encounter. Mary uses the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant from your Natal Chart to identify significant aspects of your personality in the Court Cards, which you can then use as significators in a reading to represent that aspect of yourself. Fixed signs correspond to the Kings, Cardinal signs to the Queens, and Mutable signs to the Knights.

In my case, with Sun in Scorpio, Moon in Libra, and Ascendant in Capricorn, my significant Court cards are the King of Cups (Sun), Queen of Swords (Moon), and Queen of Pentacles (Ascendant). I could use any of these to explore aspects of myself in a reading, and I pay close attention when one shows up in a reading—telling me to pay attention to that element of the reading!

Your Soul card number also highlights specific life lessons you focus on in the Minor Arcana cards. The Minor Arcana cards represent everyday situations and energies we experience in our lives, while the Major Arcana represent archetypal, existential lessons we experience for soul growth. Since my Soul number is 8, all of the Minor 8 cards are mine: The 8 of Cups (Daydreams), The 8 of Pentacles (The Student), The 8 of Swords (Travel to a Higher Plane), and The 8 of Wands (Pause Between the Battles).  Sheesh! That sounds awfully familiar! <grin>

Making Use of These Special Cards

First off, you can use any of these cards as a significator in a reading to represent yourself, particularly if you want to look at how that particular card's lessons are manifesting around you. Second, if one of these cards appears in a reading, look at its placement and think about how that particular energy may be manifesting in your life at that time. For instance, if I'm doing a Celtic Cross spread and the Queen of Swords shows up in my place of Feelings, it tells me that I'm being too detached and analytical, thinking about my feelings rather than experiencing them. <shrug> I do that, a lot. So my "Inner Teacher" is counseling me to break through the old thought patterns and allow myself to feel my emotions, something that's hard for me, but a necessary part of incarnate experience.

(See, even writing that was an example of being analytical about my feelings. What can I say?)

A Tarot Journal

One of the other things that I've done in the past, and recommend for new students of the Tarot, is to keep a journal of all the readings you do over the course of a year. Keep a record of your year cards and other significant cards, and look at when and where they show up in your readings. Since these cards are specific to the life lessons you've incarnated to experience, when they show up persistently in readings from week to week, it should tell you to pay attention to the lesson! I don't usually do more than one spread of this sort per week; you can get overwhelmed really quickly with this!

Other cards may also show up consistently in your journal, identifying other lessons that you need to listen to. As someone whose major lesson is Strength, I have a serious tendency to overdo things, and I get the 10 of Wands and the 4 of Swords a lot when I'm hitting my limits. If I pay attention and slow down a bit, I'm less likely to end up flat on my face! Similarly, if I get the 7 of Pentacles frequently, it's time for me to learn some more Patience, again, darn it. <grin>

Lastly, Meditating and Shamanic Journeying

I'm pretty sure I also got this idea from Mary's books, although I've been doing it so long, I can't really say for sure. All of the cards are gateways into the inner planes of archetypal and energetic forces that act upon our lives, and through which we learn and grow. As such, meditating on one of your significant cards can be a valuable experience, as it helps you think about and integrate all of the various lessons the card has to teach you. 

A more profound interaction is possible through a Shamanic journey into the card! Make sure that you set up your ritual space to give yourself shelter before trying this, and that you won't be interrupted. When you've consecrated your sacred space, take the card you wish to learn from and focus on the image. Build the scene up strongly in your mind, until its every detail is clear to you. Then visualize the border around the card as a doorway, and mentally step through the door into the card's landscape.

You may end up talking to the main character in the Card, or to minor characters you might otherwise not have noticed. You may end up close to the main action shown in the card, or elsewhere—but it's the place your soul has taken you to learn what you can. The people and other beings, and the landscape itself, with which you interact give you significant insights into the lessons the card is trying to teach you. Pay attention to anything they say, or to anything they give you, as these represent important clues as to how to work with the current lesson of the card.

When you're done, re-visualize the border of the card as a doorway back to your sacred space, and step back out of the card. You can leave the card by doing this at any point; you can never get lost. Then write up your journey in your journal so you can refer to it and remember it later.

My Temperance Card
Beginning these meditations can be intense, so start with cards whose energies are generally pretty benign. For instance, you're usually pretty safe with  your Court cards, and the Temperance angel will rarely steer you wrong. Starting with The Devil, The Tower, or Death just to be arrogant and prove how tough you are is just stupid; it takes time to learn how to approach such energies because their lesson is to turn your life inside out and upside down! 

Again, I highly recommend Archpriestess Mary Greer's books on the Tarot for anyone serious about learning the schema of the cards seriously. The books are profound, and the lessons within them can be life changing. I'm so glad that Mary has put so much effort into creating this body of work, because it gives us new ways of charting our course through life. 

(P. S. Please respect the copyrights on my artwork. Do not use them in any form without my direct, written permission.)

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